by Alex W.
This is a guest blog contributed by Sarah Hargreaves of Sugar Photography. You can find more of her stunning wedding photography by clicking the link above.
That iconic traditional wedding photo of smiling newlyweds surrounded by a cloud of confetti is a glorious thing; I love shooting those split-second snippets of emotion - each and every one is different from the next. However; for a photographer, this can be a tricky challenge - blink and you've missed it! Here are my top tips for mastering a breathtaking confetti shot:
I like to discuss confetti shots with a couple prior to their Big Day, to ensure I'm well prepared. Agree on the location and style; you might even plan a pose or a dramatic kiss to add a 'wow' factor to the confetti moment.
Get familiar with the location and be aware of the timeline to ensure you have adequate warning and can be ahead of the newlyweds. (There is nothing worse than being on the back foot, running after the happy couple and potentially missing their moment).
Direct your happy couple to buy plenty of confetti. Guests are buying it less and less - and this way, you can ensure you get the most photogenic type.
Medium-sized confetti is the best, a slight metallic coating is good because it catches the light really nicely. Flower petals are my favourite because they are natural, biodegradable and will fall slowly to give me plenty of time to get my photo.
Anything small won't show-up in the image, and heavy things fall way too quickly (don't even talk to me about rice…!) Massive flakes of confetti will get in the way of those happy faces.
Pack your own perfect confetti for a staged shot or some creative photos with the wedding party. Besides, confetti is a great photography prop even if you aren't a wedding photographer.
Biodegradable confetti and steering clear of grass will ease the clean-up operation. It's also well worth running your plan by your venue because many (especially churches) have rules surrounding the use of confetti.
The wind is our main adversary. To make your job as easy as possible you need a still day, a sheltered location or wind blowing into your subjects' backs. Avoid confetti going into faces, hair and mouths (which all makes for pained facial expressions - not pretty!)
Ask your confetti throwers to stand close to each other and to throw the confetti high into the air. You'll only get one chance, so it's worth asking bridesmaids and ushers to help with directing the crowd. A large group of guests is best captured from above, if you are able.
I cannot stress this enough. Often, there is an impulse to run - ask your couple to fight it! You will get more photos that way and you're more likely to take a breathtaking shot.
Provided you have plenty of confetti; gift yourself some extra time by standing your guests in 2 lines for your newlyweds to walk between. Ask the guests to throw their confetti in a Mexican Wave style as the couple pass through (so it's not all in the air at the same time).
My camera settings will depend on the photographic style I'm after but I tend to favour a low aperture (f2.8) to get a clean and sharp focus on the newlyweds, whilst softening background noise. I combine this with a fast shutter speed (at least 1/200) to capture some of the confetti whilst avoiding motion blur. You need lots of light for a good shot - so set a high ISO.
Ideally, I like to do a few test shots to configure my camera settings, and this can be an opportunity to get some creative pictures. For example, why not ask your bride or her bridesmaids, flower girl or page boy to blow a handful of confetti towards your lens, or to fling a little bit of the stuff around before the time comes to grab that all-important exit shot?
Sarah Hargreaves is a professional photographer of ten years based in West Yorkshire, UK. She sets out to capture the moments that matter in others' lives. You can see more of her work by clicking the button below.
About Alex W.
Alex is the owner and lead writer for Click and Learn Photography. An avid landscape, equine, and pet photographer living and working in the beautiful Lake District, UK, Alex has had his work featured in a number of high profile publications, including the Take a View Landscape Photographer of the Year, Outdoor Photographer of the Year, and Amateur Photographer Magazine.
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